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Barriers to healthcare for female patients in Papua New Guinea


A 25-year-old woman presented to hospital in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) with a 3-year history of increasing abdominal distension, amenorrhoea and syncope. Ultrasound showed a large unilocular ovarian cyst. During her work-up, she was found to be HIV positive. She was treated with antiretroviral therapy, and once her CD4 count improved, she underwent a laparotomy and removal of the ovarian cyst with immediate improvement in symptoms. PNG has high levels of HIV particularly in young women and children.1 This is partly due to a lack of screening and treatment facilities and partly due to significant gender discrimination. PNG is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for females; women are treated as second-class citizens with few human rights or access to services such as healthcare.2 Rape, sexual assault and domestic violence are common, and their lives are dictated to them by their husbands or male relatives.2 3 The lack of healthcare resources and significant levels of gender discrimination meant that this patient had a delayed presentation resulting in potentially grave complications.

  • global health
  • health economics
  • HIV / AIDS
  • domestic violence

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